Citizens’ everyday media practices and peace activism in ethnically polarised societies

by Zacharia Chiliswa

15 Mar 2022
Journal of the British Academy
Digital Object Identifier
Number of pages
30 (pp. 79-108)

Abstract: In many regions of the world, increasing use of media technologies for activism is shifting dynamics of peace and conflicts, particularly in fragile societies. However, there has been an extensive focus on the practical use of these media platforms, ignoring the social processes by which the latter becomes significant for different people. This article examines how citizens’ everyday media practices are helping shape the dynamics of peace and conflict in fragile societies. The study used mixed methods, administering 241 cross-sectional survey questionnaires to members of the public and 18 structured interviews to peacebuilding organisations in the counties of Nairobi and Nakuru, Kenya. This study finds that citizen media practices are influencing (peace) activism because they help shape patterns of information use and engagement in actions furthering or undermining peace. Therefore, the article argues that while the increasing use of media technologies for activism may expand opportunities for accessing information and engagement, there are specific ways in which they can undermine peace, that is, help shape the dynamics of salient social processes.

Keywords: Vernacularism, media practices, social processes, peacebuilding, peace activism.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 10, supplementary issue 1 (Everyday peacebuilding and practices in Kenya, South Sudan, Somaliland and Ghana).

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